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Medieval Perceptual Puzzles

Theories of Sense Perception in the 13th and 14th Centuries

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Edited by Elena Băltuță

In our daily lives, we are surrounded by all sorts of things – such as trees, cars, persons, or madeleines – and perception allows us access to them. But what does ‘to perceive’ actually mean? What is it that we perceive? How do we perceive? Do we perceive the same way animals do? Does reason play a role in perception? Such questions occur naturally today. But was it the same in the past, centuries ago? The collected volume tackles this issue by turning to the Latin philosophy of the 13th and 14th centuries. Did medieval thinkers raise the same, or similar, questions as we do with respect to perception? What answers did they provide? What arguments did they make for raising the questions they did, and for the answers they gave to them? The philosophers taken into consideration are, among others, Albert the Great, Roger Bacon, William of Auvergne, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, John Pecham, Richard Rufus, Peter Olivi, Robert Kilwardby, John Buridan, and Jean of Jandun.

Contributors are Elena Băltuță, Daniel De Haan, Martin Klein, Andrew LaZella, Lukáš Lička, Mattia Mantovani, André Martin, Dominik Perler, Paolo Rubini, José Filipe Silva, Juhana Toivanen, and Rega Wood.

Philosophie des Geistes im Spätmittelalter

Intellekt, Materie und Intentionalität bei Johannes Buridan

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Martin Klein

Is the human intellect material? Or can we show by appeal to its intentional operations, such as universal cognition and self-knowledge, that it is immaterial? Is there therefore a connection between intentionality and immateriality?
In Philosophie des Geistes im Spätmittelalter, Martin Klein offers a comprehensive account of John Buridan’s philosophy of mind considered in relation to his epistemology, metaphysics and natural philosophy. In light of material that has only recently been edited, Buridan is presented in the context of the late medieval debate about the nature of the human intellect and how this influences its cognitive functioning.

Animal Rationality

Later Medieval Theories 1250-1350

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Anselm Oelze

In Animal Rationality: Later Medieval Theories 1250-1350, Anselm Oelze offers the first comprehensive and systematic exploration of theories of animal rationality in the later Middle Ages. Traditionally, it was held that medieval thinkers ascribed rationality to humans while denying it to nonhuman animals. As Oelze shows, this narrative fails to capture the depth and diversity of the medieval debate. Although many thinkers, from Albert the Great to John Buridan, did indeed hold that nonhuman animals lack rational faculties, some granted them the ability to engage in certain rational processes such as judging, reasoning, or employing prudence. There is thus a whole spectrum of positions to be discovered, many of which show interesting parallels with contemporary theories of animal rationality.

Ens Primum Cognitum in Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition

The Philosophy of Being as First Known

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Brian Kemple

Ens Primum Cognitum in Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition presents a reading of Thomas Aquinas’ claim that “being” is the first object of the human intellect. Blending the insights of both the early Thomistic tradition (c.1380—1637AD) and the Leonine Thomistic revival (1879—present), Brian Kemple examines how this claim of Aquinas has been traditionally understood, and what is lacking in that understanding.

While the recent tradition has emphasized the primacy of the real (so-called ens reale) in human recognition of the primum cognitum, Kemple argues that this misinterprets Aquinas, thereby closing off Thomistic philosophy to the broader perspective needed to face the philosophical challenges of today, and proposes an alternative interpretation with dramatic epistemological and metaphysical consequences.

Anthropologische Differenz und animalische Konvenienz

Tierphilosophie bei Thomas von Aquin

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Tobias Davids

This study examines Thomas Aquinas’s contribution to the systematic field of animal philosophy. It applies various models from the current philosophical debate (especially from that concerning the mind of animals) as interpretative aids to tap the potential of the Thomistic approach.
Thomas draws a clear line of demarcation between animals and human beings (= anthropological difference). However, he also considers it important to work out the similarities between humans and animals, insofar as they are both so-called animalia, i.e., living beings possessing senses (= animal conformance).
His philosophical deliberations concerning animals have a methodological function as well, namely to highlight the distinct capacities of human beings. Thus, for Thomas, the reflection on animals is a key instrument in dealing with anthropological questions.

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José Manuel García Valverde

Giacomo Zabarella (1533-1589) was a Renaissance Aristotelian who enjoyed extraordinary prestige in life, especially in the fields of logic and natural philosophy. The De rebus naturalibus libri XXX was completed by Zabarella at the very end of his life: the dedicatory letter to Pope Sixtus V is dated just a month before his death. This writing had great impact and a large influence, as its editorial success in Italy and abroad (especially in Germany) reflects. It represents a massive effort to collect all the issues that come under the heading of “natural philosophy” and that had been taking shape from antiquity to the time of Zabarella within the vast and multifarious field of Aristotelianism: hence its encyclopedic character and extraordinary extension.

Pietro Pomponazzis Erkenntnistheorie

Naturalisierung des menschlichen Geistes im Spätaristotelismus

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Paolo Rubini

The Renaissance philosopher Pietro Pomponazzi (1462-1525) is mostly known for denying the human mind’s immateriality (and immortality) in accordance with his radical understanding of Aristotelianism. Pomponazzis Erkenntnistheorie attempts to reconstruct his theory of cognition. The author, Paolo Rubini, focuses on Pomponazzi’s scattered views about the mind’s ontological status and cognitive capacities, puts them into the context of Aristotelian-Scholastic psychology, and interprets them by reference to Pomponazzi’s ‘naturalistic’ approach to the human soul. Particular interest is devoted to the role of representations in cognitive acts, the functional link between intellect and imagination, and the process of abstraction. The study is based on Pomponazzi’s published writings about immortality as well as on unpublished records of his lectures about Aristotle’s De anima.